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As popular as The Ballpark has become, there are still some opponents to the way it was financed. "It was a sweetheart deal," says Bill Eastland, a businessman and anti-tax activist who led the opposition to The Ballpark funding deal. (Eastland is also the brother of TAS Publisher Terry Eastland.) "As the details came out, it became very clear that the Rangers were being given a ballpark completely paid for by the taxpayers." Adds Mark Rosentraub, "The issue is whether or not private enterprise ought to be subsidized to the extent to which The Ballpark was subsidized -- and if that subsidy produces immense financial returns, to what extent the public ought to receive significant financial returns."
However one chooses to frame the issue, it is indisputable that The Ballpark had a huge impact on George W. Bush. Last year, he and his partners sold the Rangers to Dallas investor Tom Hicks for $250 million. Bush's part was worth $15 million (it may ultimately be even more, according to Hughes, because some profits still have not been distributed). It was, to say the least, a healthy profit on his original $606,000 investment. But why were the Rangers so much more valuable than they had been when Bush and his group bought them? Because of The Ballpark. "The team's value is attributable to the revenue streams of the new stadium," says Rosentraub. Bill Eastland says it more simply. "When Hicks comes along and buys the team, do you know what he's buying? He's buying the damn Ballpark."
The $135 Million Question
The details about Bush's business career, from the first investors to the stadium deal, will undoubtedly become the basis for questions in the coming campaign. After all, journalists will reason, given the intense scrutiny given to Bill Clinton's past financial dealings, shouldn't Bush face the same? That is, of course, a misreading of what happened to Clinton -- other than the original Whitewater article in the New York Times, the investigation of his financial affairs came largely after he became president -- but the distinction is likely to be lost in the political season.
It's not an idle question. If one superimposes a timeline over the Bush career path, one sees that his rise in business coincided with his father's rise to the highest levels of government. In late 1979 and 1980, for example, as the younger Bush was seeking investors for Arbusto, his father was running for the Republican nomination for president and, later, taking his place as Ronald Reagan's running mate. Many of the people who were investing with George W. were also contributing to his father's campaign, which may or may not mean they were trying to buy a little good will in the White House. The Uzielli investment, the Spectrum 7 deal, and the Harken merger all were accomplished while the elder Bush was vice president. And the Rangers sale went through very shortly after President Bush took office.
But it may be that -- provided no evidence of wrongdoing emerges -- there's little more to say than the obvious: Of course Bush benefited from his connections, but that's just the way the world works. Rather, the real problem for Bush -- certainly with his fellow Republicans -- may ultimately be not his family friends but the stadium deal. It will be hard for Bush to deny that he and the other owners happily accepted $135 million from the taxpayers for their private benefit. Would he as president favor similar large-scale federal "public-private partnerships" financed by the taxpayers? A sweet deal like The Ballpark comes once in a lifetime, but it leaves a front-runner with a lot of explaining to do.
This article also appears in the June 1999 issue of The American Spectator.
Byron York is an investigative writer with TAS.
Copyright © 1999 The American Spectator
-- Cherri (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 19, 2001
That would be Doing It For the Kids on Creation, 1988. The twilight of British jangle pop and the dawn of proto-shoegazing (or something to that effect). One of the last vinyl LPs I bought and one of the first CDs. Looking down the tracklist, I see it led me to buy quite a few albums on other labels (PrmlScrm, Heidi Berry, MBV, Momus).
1. Cut Me Deep - Jasmine Minks
2. Ballad of the Band - Felt
3. Christine - House of Love
4. Well Done Sonny - Weather Prophets
5. All Fall Down - Primal Scream
6. She Paints - Biff Bang Pow!
7. Lot 49 - Jazz Butcher
8. North Shore Train - Berry, Heidi
9. Death Is Hanging Over Me - Sudden, Nikki
10. Cigarette in Your Bed - My Bloody Valentine
11. Jetstream - Pacific
12. Godevil - Times
13. A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy, Pt. - Momus
14. Reflect on Rye - Emily
15. Brighter Now - Razorcuts
-- test (email@example.com), February 08, 2002.